MICHAEL Settle claims that the next election will be between a progressive Labour Party and a Thatcherite Conservative Party ("Strike woes could see Starmer’s Labour miss an open goal", The Herald, July 29). He must be privy to secrets which have been hidden from the electorate at large, for it is difficult to distinguish what the Labour Party under its present leadership actually stands for. Its one distinctive policy, a windfall tax on energy companies, was hijacked and subsequently trumped by the Tories. Mr Settle also writes of the Left’s concern with “political purity”, a very dramatic term for individuals and groups expressing support for workers seeking to defend living standards.

Mr Settle got two things right. New Labour did win three elections from 1997. It then presided over the biggest financial collapse in the country’s history and one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in the county’s history. The latter escapade also involved a litany of lies which, just as much as the Tories, undermined trust in political institutions. He is probably also correct to say that the next election will be settled in “middle England”. Many people increasingly concerned with Scotland’s place in the Union, will no doubt have come to the same conclusion.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


MANY Labour supporters must be wondering what on earth Sir Keir Starmer has gone and done.

Life was proceeding fairly calmly for the party until the sacking of Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry ("Senior Scottish trade union official quits Labour over picket line row sacking", The Herald July 29) after he appeared on an RMT picket line.

Sir Keir's decision has provoked an angry reaction within his party from the Corbynite tendency, and the journalist Owen Jones, whose affiliations associate him with the cadre of the previous Labour leader, added his incendiary comment that Sir Keir was not a truthful man, the very fault to dislodge the Prime Minister from his position.

As a result he has given a hostage to fortune in that, whenever he is to be interviewed, the focus will now be upon this episode instead of having the media focusing upon the two contenders for the Tory leadership continuing to knock seven bells out of each other.

This false step casts doubt upon Sir Keir's commitment to the raison d'etre of socialism and is likely to undo all the good work he has done since assuming his position.

He could surely have allowed all members of the parliamentary party to exercise their consciences as to whether they should appear upon the the RMT picket lines since the party has from its inception prided itself on being the working people's party.

It is of course too late for any such approach now and many fences will now have to be mended to repair the damage this cack-handed decision has caused. In footballing parlance, he has scored an own goal, to the delight of both the Corbynites and his political opponents on the other side of the Despatch Box.

It does not take much imagination to work out who will be rubbing their hands with glee and gloating over his avoidable misstep. pointing to a deficit of mature political judgment. Could we soon be seeing a leadership contest in the Labour Party, a supreme irony which Boris Johnson would undoubtedly enjoy?

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


GR Weir (Letters, July 29) contends that “the formal position of the UK Government appears to be that there is no lawful or democratic route by which to achieve Scottish independence”. This is untrue: the formal position is that the lawful and democratic route is by obtaining a Section 30 Order to hold a referendum on the issue, which is an entirely feasible proposition – proven by the fact that it was the very thing that happened as recently as 2012.

Personally, I would like to see a unilateral route to secession established, provided that the bar was high enough to ensure that it was demonstrably the settled will of the overwhelming majority of Scots in all parts of the country. Surely we can learn from Brexit that a momentous decision made on the basis of a slender majority should be avoided?

Meanwhile, and until such a route is passed into law, the most that can be said for the Scottish Government is that it can seek from the electorate a mandate to seek a referendum and in turn independence. However, there is no compulsion on Scotland's UK Government to agree to that suggestion, and indeed the current one has its own specific mandate not to do so.

And no agreement simply equals no referendum or independence.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

• IN his final sentence GR Weir betrays an SNP secret: “the next one (referendum) will undoubtedly be the last”. If Yes wins (50 per cent plus one?), there will be no further referendum, lest the fickle Scottish electorate dares to change its unsettled mind.

William Durward, Bearsden.


JILL Stephenson (Letters, July 29) writes that "our hearts have hardened" and "we will not play the SNP’s game again". Surely she is not suggesting that Scotland’s future democracy is merely a game?

She says that many did not want a vote in 2014, but nevertheless, fought the good fight and won. This outcome was shrouded in promises and vows – promises that included that if you vote to remain in the UK, your place in the EU will be guaranteed.

Ms Stephenson says there is no case for leaving the UK. Has she been shielding herself from bad news days, not wanting to hear the evidence and all the scandals?

The case for leaving the UK can be made just on the PM’s record. He lied to Parliament, he is a law breaker, he illegally prorogued Parliament and he negotiated a damaging hard Brexit deal putting the Northern Ireland peace agreement in jeopardy, not to mention the pandemic contracts scandals.

At no time in the last half century did Scotland vote for a Conservative government, yet Scotland has suffered the consequences. Hardened hearts will certainly be an issue at Indyref2 or the next General Election, but unlike Ms Stephenson, I detect those hearts will focus on the shameful record of the Conservative Party in government.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


SO live TV debates have been taking place in order to assist a select few to decide whether to elect Tweedledee or Tweedledum as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – or should that be the Disunited Kingdom?

They have to decide between “hard right” or “extreme right”.

I did not watch the puerile piffle but I’ve since read that both candidates have repeatedly stated that the significant chaos at Dover was most definitely nothing to do with Brexit. They are either liars or seriously deluded. In either case they are unfit for the great office of Prime Minister.

In addition, both were perilously close to the the heart of a Government which repeatedly broke laws and filled with sleaze.

The winner will be chosen by a relatively small number of people – the majority of whom I reckon will be white, middle class and living in middle England somewhere. I wouldn’t imagine too many of them will be living on benefits or will be food bank users.

It is high time that Scotland becomes the 136th country to free itself from the shackles of a land that is of no relevance to an outward-looking diverse nation who would most certainly not be sending flights to Rwanda any time soon.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.


TRACEY Smith (Letters, July 25) mentions the hypocrisy of the Greens’ campaign to Save Loch Lomond from the Flamingoland development while at the same time supporting industrial wind farm development which destroys unspoilt rural areas. Would she really expect anything else?

The SNP/Green wind farm-obsessed Government doesn’t even allow the public to express its opinion about wind farms in a public consultation, unless it is something the Government wants to hear.

Some of the responses from groups and individuals to the recent Onshore Wind Policy Statement Refresh have had their submissions heavily redacted in line with Scottish Government moderation guidance, which in other words allows the removal of anything it doesn’t want the public to get wind of, so to speak.

It is evident this "public" consultation was designed solely for the renewable industry so that it can post its wish list to be taken on board by the Scottish Government. The Government obviously consider members of the public to be, in its own words, nothing more than “a barrier to deployment”.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor.